23 Dec Heli-Snowboarding in the Alps vs heli-skiing in the Alps
Skiers and boarders often heli-ski together. Heli-snowboarding in the Alps can be amazing but snowboarders typically take a different line to skiers and this can cause some issues when heli-snowboarding in the Alps. Each location offers something different. Snow conditions, terrain, weather and the local regulations all affect how heli-skiing and heli-boarding will be on your trip. This is one of two blogs which outline some points that are good-to-know for your heli-snowboarding in the Alps.
Where can you heli-snowboard in the Alps?
I recently saw a whole article titled “the French Alps has incredible high-altitude heli-skiing”. My immediate thought was that this company is clearly happy to give misleading information on the internet. How then can you be confident that they will be making the difficult but right safety decisions for your trip? Heli-snowboarding and skiing are risky sports and transparency in communication is necessary. Not until the end of the article did they mention that heli-skiing is actually not permitted in France.
Heli-boarding or heli-transportation?
We have said it before, so remember this: if you see heli-skiing advertised in France or the Dolomites it means that you may enter a helicopter at some stage during your skiing… but that is not heli-sking as we know it. Heli-skiing or heli-snowboarding in the Alps should be an unforgettable, exhilarating experience. It should not be a normal ski day with a scenic flight added on, or a flight to get you back to your starting destination, unless that is what you are looking for. With knowledge, you can decipher marketing from reality.
Heli-snowboarding descents in the Alps suited to snowboarders
The descents that you are looking for when heli-boarding are those that do not require too much traversing. All snowboarders know this feeling. Skiers often take a tangent across the mountain. This may be to take a high line to climb over a small mountain pass to get into another valley, for example.
Heli-snowboarding in the Alps and traversing compared to a skier
Snowboarders cannot always follow the same traverse line as a skier. Sometimes it can even be physically impossible. To follow some lines that skiers take, a snowboarder will need more speed. For more speed you need terrain that allows you to reach that speed. You also need to be sure there are no obstacles ahead. Obstacles can be hard blocks of ice or small holes along the way which are hard to see.
What it means to have only one edge
As we all know, fellow snowboarders, if you hit a hard block of snow on your way you will destabilize your one and only edge. This can be enough to unbalance you and send you into a spin. Depending on where you are heli-snowboarding this can be dangerous. You can find yourself too low with a no way out beneath you, meaning a difficult uphill hike in deep powder snow awaits you. Not to mention that more time spent in a deep powder snow area means more risk. Or you may fall on a steep descent, the steeper the further you fall. This dilemma of the need for traversing, poses no problem to skiers but can cause dangerous problems for snowboarders. It is something to think about when planning a heli-snowboarding trip in the Alps.
It may be clear by now that this is an article for skiers, as the snowboarders reading this have all been there. So for those snowboarders looking to heli-snowboard in the Alps with skiing friends here are the points to remind them of. In our next article we will have some suggestions on how to find the best descents for heli-snowboarding.
If you are keen on knowing more about heli-skiing and snowboarding in the Alps, have a look at our other articles on the things you need to know about heli-skiing.
Warm regards from the mountains,